on 22 October 2007
I was pleasantly surprised at just how good this film is, as after all the negative reviews I was expecting something altogether less well-made and less faithful to historical fact.
The costumes are splendid and the actors all do very well with the script they are given - although personally I would have liked more dialogue and less intrusive background music. The fact that they were allowed to film at Versailles for real adds to the general flavour of the movie.
But it is a great shame that much of the political element has been skimmed over in favour of simply over-emphasising the excesses of the royal lifestyle, giving an overall shallowness to what is surely one of the most tragic times in French history. This fault could easily have been ammended with a couple less "party" scenes and more scenes showing the increasing discontent of the people. As it is, the revolution appears to spring out of nowhere and we don't get a real sense of Marie Antoinette's fall from grace. They have also left out the birth of their second son, Louis Charles, and the death of the Dauphin Louis Joseph in 1789. The death of baby Sophie Hélène is only briefly alluded to. Including some of these events would have helped the viewer to understand Marie and Louis more as people. Without them, this is little more than 2 hours of watching some teenagers frivolously "living it up", with no apparent message or purpose.
But the real problem arises at the end, when the royal family is shown escaping the palace in their carriage. Suddenly the credits roll and that's it. Finished. The movie ends there. No arrests, no imprisonment, no trial, no executions. You will be left yelling at the screen in frustration "where's the rest??!". Truly very disappointing and a great injustice to not only the characters involved but to French history as a whole.
on 7 August 2013
I think the reason this film is so often bashed and panned by critics and public alike is because they expect far too much of it. Many don't seem to realize that this film is supposed to appeal to the senses, most importantly sound and sight. Its not trying to be some complete cinematic masterpiece, its simply trying to tell a story about a teenage girl married beyond her will and thrown into situations which mostly were not of her making. The most poignant thing about the film is the way in which towards the end her beautiful, carefree world fall apart as her child dies and the revolution looms over her family. Visually, it is one of the most beautiful films I have ever seen. The sumptuous costumes and the outstanding use of the palace of Versailles really are a feast for the eyes. The use of 1980's and modern indie music is a bold move but i think it works very well in line with the teenage queen gliding through the palace and its grounds. Do i think that Marie Antoinette's story could do with a proper all out cinematic retelling? Yes, but that doesn't stop me from enjoying this film. If you want an evocative drama then look elsewhere but if you want to escape into another time and place for a couple of hours then look no further than this film.
It's not perfect, but it's a much better piece of cinema than its critics would have you believe. In fact, what is created here is a deliciously personal movie about a historical figure - made not as an epic, but as an intimate and `in-the-moment' portrayal of a teenager in over her head.
It's the first key to liking this movie - it is a teen-movie. Not for them but about one. As such, all we are seeing is how Marie Antoinette must have seen her life. A young teenager put into a political arranged marriage as the Dauphine of France, she has to leave all behind and finds herself in an intolerable situation (an unconsummated marriage - for 7 years!) with no frame of reference. That's the second key to liking it - it is about her removal from a sense of reality - Versaille is geographically, politically, socially and economically isolated from the reality of France, until the tragic end. (a tragic end which the movie stops just before, incidentally).
This lack of a reality touchstone sends the teenager into spirals of excess - and yet Kirsten Dunst finds new depths in portraying her as indulgent, and yet sincere. Petulant yet patient and revelling in luxury, yet loyal regardless of cost. The movie itself has been criticised for having discordant elements - modern (and 80's) music, hand held camera movements, brighter than bright colours - and yet this is highly effective at making this story real, and not a historical document - exactly what Sofia Coppola was trying to achieve. One scene which exemplifies this, is the masked ball - an occasion which should in most period movies would be starchy and elegant - but here is almost like a night club or a rave with pounding soundtrack - and this is precisely the excitement and impression this occasion would have engendered in a spoilt and privileged teenager.
Finally, the other ingredients (an apt turn of phrase since everything looks like candy) that complete the feel of the movie - the set design and the music. The film was given complete access to Versaille, which makes the location vivid and real - and yet in set design the filmmakers have made these places not a museum, but a real vibrant place home to many. And of course all the wonderful bright and pastel shades made so that `everything looks like cake' are terrific to watch. And then the music - apart from the occasional pop song as mentioned before, the music actually evokes various moods - from the lyrical simplicity of rural France, to melancholy similar in tone to the soundtrack of Lost in Translation, through to modern beats - it's a brilliant and imaginative score.
Top marks to Coppola - I preferred this even to Lost in Translation. It certainly won't be to everyones taste and best rented than bought - but it is a uniquely personal movie deserving a viewing so you can make up your own mind.
on 11 December 2015
I was super excited about this story when purchasing it, and was then consequently fully immersed in the action and the emotions described and shown by Marie Antoinette. The descriptions of the boisterous extravagance and the endless refinery truly were a wonder upon the eye, and those with good knowledge of socioeconomic conditions at the time of the late 18th century will be able to imagine the contrast between the heavenly lifestyle of Marie Antoinette compared to the stressful hardship of the average working citizen of le Francais.
One huge problem that I and I'm sure a lot of viewers were confused or even frustrated about is clearly the word "imagine". Viewers literally only receive Marie Antoinette's world instead of also including the Les Miserables-esque landscape and terror that gripped France so strikingly when approaching those frightening 18th century 90's. There is hardly any mention of the growing tension amongst the poorer classes over the mass loss of food, the grossly large prices on bread due to the poor harvesting, and not to mention the vast tax increases due to the incessant funding of the wars in America.
But, can you really be angry at the moviemakers for their choice of narrative and plot? The movie title literally says "Marie Antoinette" and not "The French Revolution".Individuals that are thinking of buying the movie purely to enjoy a window into the violence and terror of the bloodlusting revolutionaries in Paris should definitely keep their wallets inside of their pockets, because this movie is definitely not for them. In fact, there's literally only about a minute of a scene where the angry mob charges upon the palace in Versailles. The rest of the movie time is dedicated to showing Marie Antoinette's luxury. The plot is as simple as that.
We get to see everything important stage of Marie Antoinette's life in the palace of Versailles. We get to scrutinize her behaviour, her interests, her friendships, her passions and her affairs. Throughout the story, there is a definite sense that the producers wanted to envision a teenager having fun with her friends, everyday. There are large scenes of her and her male and female aristocratic friends of similar ages dancing in great banquet halls and parties, frollicking and running through the meadows and fields around Versailles, and watching the "beautiful" sunrise.
These activities hold certain similarities with the activity of the common teenager: fun, hanging out with friends, discussing random matters and gossiping. It's clear that the target audience is young people, and hence why they have boldly employed soundtracks of the modern world who seem rather out of place of the traditional grandeur of 18th century France, almost as if these songs had a Tardis of their own to travel to whatever portion of time they please. But it works well to create a rather excitable and upbeat to Marie Antoinette's adventure in becoming the Queen of France, before her tragic demise.
Overall, people watching the film can expect a vibrant and scrutinous observance of a teenage Queen living the life of royalty, facing her problems that are flung her way and having as much fun as she can at the same time. The aristocratic world gives viewers an idea of what life is like inside French royalty before the monarchy was destroyed, and how Marie Antoinette spent her time throughout.
This was a film my wife picked for us to watch together and was not something i expected to be at all interested in. The film was very watchable and managed to capture my interest enough for me to watch it without doing anything else at the same time.
The good points:
Kirsten Dunst. Always plays her roles well and is possibly the best actress hollywood has ever produced.
The settings and costumes. The costumes and locations succeeded in capturing the lavishness of the french nobility in that period and were suitable for the queen of excess that Marie Antionette was.
The storyline. The film was entertaining and was well paced to keep you interested and curious as to what would happen next.
The bad points: (including some spoilers)
The storyline. Yes i know this was under the good points as well but as entertaining as it was it also lacked depth in a lot of places. The motives behind the characters actions were rarely fully explained, for example there was little reason given for the lack of interest the Dophane(the future king Louis 16th) showed in intercourse with his beautiful Dophine(Marie Antionette). Also I was unable to spot any time when the parentage of Marie Antionettes children was questioned by the Dophanes brother who was in reality very publicly outspoken in this matter. There is also no indication of the Dophane's brother being very open and public with his desire to be king by any means (including questioning the father of the Dophine's children).
A good film if you like this genre and can be mildly entertaining if you are not however not for those who desire intense historical accuracy and detail in their films.
i would suggest it is a film that is better suited to being rented where possible rather than being bought.
Marie Antoinette is like a rich perfume; heady, alluring but ultimately empty and can give you a headache.
The film is undoubtedly a piece of cinematic master craft, with attention to detail, amazing costumes and stunning cinematography. But the manner in which it tells the story of such an amazing woman ends up a vacuous caprice from one gossiping party to another.
I get that Sofia Coppola wanted to convey the attitude of the French aristocracy, the sheer ignorance of anything but fashion, indulgence and luxury that led to the Revolution, but it does drag on!!
I wanted to throw my cushion at the television upon hearing one of her cronies squeal 'Oh what lovely porcelain' because its so boring!
It feels completely improvised and ad-libbed, what the actors thought that they might say if they were posh French ladies.
Its not as if there isn't material in the story of Marie Antoinette after all, but of course, the story isn't the point, its the experience of indulgence.... which may be all very well for Film experts etc, but to the regular viewer it is dreary and boring, even to a Historian it is frustrating even ignoring the inaccuracies!
There is however a shining light in this film, Kirsten Dunst who plays the teenage queen impeccably reminding us of course that Marie Antoinette was just 14 years old when she left Austria, and still only a teenager when made Queen... the folly of youth is captured beautifully as Dunst connects with the audience, the scene following the birth of Marie's nephew is touching and reminds us of the incredible pressure royal women were under in past times to produce an heir, something largely ignored in mainstream history and historical films.
The empathy we associate with her is powerful throughout the film, let down in some places, but it is worth watching to capture something of the spirit of Marie Antoinette, a woman painted a harlot, glutton and heartless by the radical French when in fact she was just a girl trying to find her place in a strange world that refused to accept her.
on 9 February 2007
Marie Antoinette begins with the young duchess Maria Antoine journeying from Austria to France to marry the young heir to the throne - Louis Auguste. The film follows her life at Versailles, from becoming Dauphine and learning the strict etiquette of the palace - to her final days there as the notorious frivolous Queen, Marie Antoinette. If you love costume drama's, this is definately an abstract one to add to the collection!!!
Whatever you're expecting of this film, prepare to have your expectations completely blown out of the water. Don't expect a full 'film' script, with clear dialogue and plots with it. Marie Antoinette is more like a piece of art, representing a portrait of the doomed monarch's life.
In a movie you tend to get lost in the plotline, but with Marie Antoinette - you already know the plot (well I shoulod hope so anyway!) and therefore get lost in what you see. The film was visually stunning. The costumes (look out for the purposely placed pair of Converse in the 'I want Candy' scene!), food, Versailles set, animals, people, lighting, colour, even outdoors - is absolutely wonderful. The soundtrack, filled with quirky rock tracks of the likes of New Order and Souxie and the Banshee's turns the film into something wonderfully unusual.
Kirsten Dunst I thought portrayed the young Queen very well - as well as her growth during the period. However, it's Rose Byrne who steals the show in my opinion as the witty and wonderful Yolande Polignac .
If you're expecting to see a completely accurate historical epic, you're going to be disappointed - there are plenty of historical inaccuracies to spot, as well as various important events missing from the story. Also, it's definately not one to see with the boyfriend - they'll be bored.
Oh yes, and if you're expecting the popular guillotine scene - you're going to be disappointed - go and order a slasher flick instead.
on 18 March 2007
Marie Antoinette is visually stunning and narratively beautiful.
Whilst I can sort of understand the harsh reviews of this film, I cannot help but think that in many ways people are missing the point.
Coppola has captured the feeling of extreme decadence and indulgence that surrounded the palace during the reign of Louis XVI. Using sumptuous colours and textures she has created an dream like world, a world that allows you to sample just how fabulous life could be!
Kirsten Dunst is stunning in this film. She creates such empathy for her character that I was truly moved by her progression and eventual decline in the film. In a film of few words actions are important and Dunst's ability to convey herself through gesture and movement is magnificent, her transformation from innocent, lost girl to fully-formed temptress Queen is utterly convincing. The supporting characters are equally engaging and wonderful to watch.
This film is a visual delight, anyone remotely interested in Sophia Coppola's work will realise that her films aren't plot driven, instead Coppola focuses on producing an atmosphere or a mood and within Marie Antoinette she has indeed done this.
The use of modern and classical music on the soundtrack really gave the film a beautifully "indie" edge...I also love the modern references, look out for the beaten up pair of converse sneakers!!
Watch this film as if regarding a piece of art, as that it what it is!
As the movie opens, a marriage has been arranged for 14-year old Maria Antonia (Kirsten Dunst) of Austria and Louis, the Dauphin of France (Jason Schwartzman). She is immediately packed off to the court of Versailles where she is the object of suspicion as a foreigner, and her husband is unable or unwilling to consummate their marriage. Plucky Marie Antoinette manages to quickly adjust to her lavish and pampered lifestyle by indulging in power-shopping and taking a lover. At the age of 19, she is Queen of France, a mother, and totally unaware of the desperate conditions of the poor in Paris.
From the first punk rock tune during the opening credits, I knew this was not going to be a typical historical drama. Indeed, the soundtrack mixes rock songs with a few classical pieces, creating a quirky, surreal atmosphere. If you liked the odd mix of a period story with modern music in the movie "Moulin Rouge," you'll like this one.
On the plus side, it's easy to feel immersed in court life, where all the nobility had to do all day was dress in stunningly gorgeous outfits, gossip about everyone, and see and be seen. The costumes are incredibly opulent and much of the filming was done in and around Versailles, so this is a visual feast, to say the least. I did find it annoying that no mention is ever made of dates and the passage of time (19 years) is vague since the actors don't seem to age. Dunst is horribly miscast as Marie Antoinette. She looks and sounds like a mid-west Girl Scout, using words like, "yeah" and "gonna," and generally looking silly amid the sophisticated surroundings. I give it five stars for the photography and one star for Dunst and the soundtrack, for a score of 3 ***.
on 9 May 2016
Coppola reprises LOST IN TRANSLATION but as an exercise in mistranslating the French Revolution. This is a huge pity. Kirsten Dunst is well-cast in this tale but her effects are muted because the context provided by the dramaturgy offers almost no contrast. It's beautifully coloured, styled and gorgeously optically printed to express natural light but nowhere are there the shadows of revolutionary ideology nor the suffering of the old and new poor of France of the period. The fishwives, when they arrive, are scarcely credible. It is almost as if Coppola ended up shooting her own footnotes and marginal scribblings for film ideas as they loosely related to the period, rather than a comprehensive human survey of one of the most gruesome stories every told to us by history. The various Coldplay-backed mash-ups on Youtube which take an idea somewhere inherent in this telling (modern music, pathos and great visual richness) serve that possible dynamic much better than the film is actually served by its own score. Musically, the movie underplays its musical touches and pulls most of its dramatic punches. What is frustrating is that the young cast, (playing a young king and queen) could have very credibly portrayed the 'snow falling on blossom' that the Revolution was memorably described as being. Dunst is photographed lovingly, compassionately, against all the right furniture and baroque cakes and sweets. Coppola even takes the time to detour via the fad for simplicity but lately affected Marie Antoinette in her final decade. But there isn't really a sense of the protagonist's life against a real world, against real feelings. In reality, the queen was very aware of the politics and leading figures of her time. She was the target of brutal defamation and ugly misogyny. That should have been and could have been easily part of the story here. But, there is none of the real spite, savagery, calumny and class-hatred of the pre-Revolutionary period that flared up like psoriasis ion 1789 and which that still runs like a vivid scar through our own European politics. A huge and missed opportunity.